What Is The Prognosis For People With Restless Legs Syndrome
RLS is generally a lifelong condition for which there is no cure. However, current therapies can control the disorder, minimize symptoms, and increase periods of restful sleep. Symptoms may gradually worsen with age, although the decline may be somewhat faster for individuals who also suffer from an associated medical condition. A diagnosis of RLS does not indicate the onset of another neurological disease, such as Parkinsons disease. In addition, some individuals have remissionsperiods in which symptoms decrease or disappear for days, weeks, months, or yearsalthough symptoms often eventually reappear. If RLS symptoms are mild, do not produce significant daytime discomfort, or do not affect an individuals ability to fall asleep, the condition does not have to be treated.
What Type Of Medications Work On Restless Leg Syndrome
If your symptoms are severe or interfering with your activities, medication may be recommended. Your provider can help decide which treatment is best for you, but several options are available:
Anti-seizure medications, such as gabapentin enacarbil , , and
Dopaminergic medications, such as , , and
The anti-seizure medicines are quickly becoming favored as a first-choice treatment option because they seem to be as effective as the dopaminergic medications, with fewer side effects. There is also a risk of symptoms worsening with long-term use of dopaminergic medications.
Sometimes, other medications like benzodiazepines may be prescribed for more restful sleep, but these can be addictive so its best to avoid them if possible.
Medications For Restless Legs Syndrome
Daily medication is usually recommended only for people who have symptoms of restless legs syndrome at least three nights a week, or as determined by your doctor. Keep in mind that drugs used to treat primary RLS do not cure the condition, but only relieve symptoms. People whose RLS symptoms occur sporadically may be prescribed medication to take only when they have symptoms.
The following medications are the most widely prescribed to treat RLS. They may be given alone or, in certain cases, in combination. Your doctor will prescribe the best treatment plan for you.
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Natural Remedies For Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome , marked by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, is a neurological disorder that affects as many as 12 million Americans. Symptoms usually strike when patients are lying in bed at night, but restless leg syndrome can also flare up in the daytime .
Restless leg syndrome patients typically report a feeling of burning, tingling, aching, itching, or tugging deep beneath the skin of their lower legs . Although symptom intensity and duration vary from person to person, moving the legs tends to ease the discomfort for most patients.
Stretching And Movement Tips
Keeping your body physically active is a great way to lessen RLS symptoms. When you are immobile for too long , this is when those creepy sensations can start up. Try these stretching and movement tips:
- Go walking for lunch. Take your sandwich and head to the park down the street.
- Jog in place to give your circulation a boost.
- If you sit down a lot for work, get up and walk around for five minutes every hour.
- Right when you get out of bed in the morning and right before you hit the sack at night, take some time to stretch your legs.
- If on a road trip, stop every hour or so for a stretch.
- If flying in a plane, request an aisle seat. When it is safe to do so, walk up and down the aisles a couple times every so often.
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Home Remedies For Restless Leg Syndrome
millions of Americans each year. People who suffer from RLS often have aches, pains, or sensations in the legs when a person is lying down for bed or sitting. With restless leg syndrome, your legs feel like exercising even though the rest of your body and mind are ready for sleep.
Because this happens more often at night or while lying down, RLS can cause you to have trouble falling or staying asleep, which can in turn decrease quality of life.
RLS occurs more in women than men. It can happen at any age, but it affects adults more often, according to the National Institutes of Health
The symptoms of RLS can vary in duration and severity for each person. Some people experience mild symptoms intermittently, while others may have more severe symptoms with each episode. No matter what your pain level is, there are some home remedies that you can try to help you manage your condition.
What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome
More often than not, the cause of RLS is a mystery. There may be a genetic predisposition and an environmental trigger.
More than 40 percent of people with RLS have some family history of the condition. In fact, there are five gene variants associated with RLS. When it runs in the family, symptoms usually start before age 40.
There may be a connection between RLS and low levels of iron in the brain, even when blood tests show that your iron level is normal.
RLS may be linked to a disruption in the dopamine pathways in the brain. Parkinsons disease is also related to dopamine. That may explain why many people with Parkinsons also have RLS. Some of the same medications are used to treat both conditions. Research on these and other theories is ongoing.
Its possible that certain substances like caffeine or alcohol can trigger or intensify symptoms. Other potential causes include medications to treat:
Primary RLS isnt related to an underlying condition. But RLS can actually be an offshoot of another health problem, like neuropathy, diabetes, or kidney failure. When thats the case, treating the main condition may resolve RLS issues.
There are certain things that may put you in a higher risk category for RLS. But its uncertain if any of these factors actually cause RLS.
Some of them are:
Having RLS can affect your overall health and quality of life. If you have RLS and chronic sleep deprivation, you may be a higher risk of:
- heart disease
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Restless Legs Syndrome Treatment
If you experience these symptoms, see your doctor to confirm a diagnosis. You may need a blood test for iron and kidney function.
If your symptoms are caused by an underlying condition, such as diabetes or anaemia, the first step is to treat that condition.
If there is no apparent medical condition, medication can be prescribed if the symptoms severely affect your sleep or quality of life.
You may be able to ease the symptoms, and improve your sleep, by:
- having hot baths, heat pads, ice packs and leg massages
Get More Iron In Your Diet
Using your diet to safely correct any iron deficiency can help alleviate RLS symptoms. The catch, Dr. Berkowski says, is knowing what your iron levels are. Iron supplements are certainly one way to get those levels up but youll need to be sure to consult with your doctor about that. If your iron levels are already normal or even too high, more iron wont help you give you those benefits, he adds.
If you are iron deficient, though, there are plenty of healthy ways to get iron through your diet. Eating red meat can really boost iron levels, Dr. Berkowski says, and if youre vegetarian, eating tofu, legumes, lentils and spinach is a way to get that iron.
Other foods that are rich in iron include eggs, fish and nuts, like cashews and almonds.
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Is Restless Legs Syndrome Affecting Your Sleep
You may know it as the urge to move or jerk your legs when youre sitting or lying still, especially at night. Restless legs syndrome occurs when brain cells send false signals of pain, discomfort, tingling and itchiness to nerve endings in the legs . Moving your legs turns off these signals, but the creepy-crawly sensations return as soon as youre still again.
The syndrome is thought to result from an overproduction of the brain chemical dopamine during the day, which leads to an underproduction at night. Heres what to do if your itchy, jerking legs keep you awake at night.
What Is The Treatment For Restless Leg Syndrome
Treatment of restless leg syndrome is first directed toward any underlying illness, if known. For example:
- Blood testing to reveal underlying iron deficiency anemia may reveal the underlying cause.
- If varicose veins are thought to be the cause, then surgery to repair the circulation may be considered.
- Reduction or elimination of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol from a person’s diet can be very helpful.
- Stopping smoking can significantly diminish or prevent symptoms.
- Getting better sleep and exercise can help some persons affected by restless legs.
- Pregnant women who do not sleep well at night and other people with sleep disorders may develop RLS.
There is no cure for restless leg syndrome however, the condition usually responds well to home remedies and medications. The outlook is excellent for people with restless leg syndrome as long as it does not weaken or damage the function of the legs.\
Medications used to treat restless leg syndrome include:
- natural supplements ,
- carbidopa-levodopa ,
- opioids ,
- carbamazepine ,
- clonazepam ,
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Living With Restless Leg Syndrome
Keep your doctor posted on how youre feeling. He or she can suggest different relaxation techniques and can change your medicine if its not helping. You may want to join a support group to talk to other people who are suffering from RLS. Also, because RLS tends to run in families, you may want to talk to your relatives about your RLS and see if they have similar symptoms.
Restless Legs Syndrome And Periodic Limb Movement Disorder
Most people who have RLS also have a condition called periodic limb movement disorder . PLMD involves repetitive flexing or twitching of the limbs while asleep at night. It is different from RLS in that these movements are not accompanied by uncomfortable sensations and because they occur during sleep, patients are often not aware of them. However, PLMD-associated movements can cause a person to wake up and therefore can compound sleep issues in patients who also have RLS.
Although most people with RLS have PLMD, many with PLMD do not have RLS.
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Ruling Out Potential Causes
Your first step in addressing RLS should be to figure out if something is causing it. While RLS can be related to things that are largely out of your control, such as genetics or pregnancy, other possible factors can be addressed.
These factors could be daily habits, medications youre taking, health conditions you have, or other triggers.
What Are Common Signs And Symptoms Of Restless Legs
People with RLS feel the irresistible urge to move, which is accompanied by uncomfortable sensations in their lower limbs that are unlike normal sensations experienced by people without the disorder. The sensations in their legs are often difficult to define but may be described as aching throbbing, pulling, itching, crawling, or creeping. These sensations less commonly affect the arms, and rarely the chest or head. Although the sensations can occur on just one side of the body, they most often affect both sides. They can also alternate between sides. The sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful.
Because moving the legs relieves the discomfort, people with RLS often keep their legs in motion to minimize or prevent the sensations. They may pace the floor, constantly move their legs while sitting, and toss and turn in bed.
A classic feature of RLS is that the symptoms are worse at night with a distinct symptom-free period in the early morning, allowing for more refreshing sleep at that time. Some people with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. They may also note a worsening of symptoms if their sleep is further reduced by events or activity.
People with RLS can sometimes experience remissionsspontaneous improvement over a period of weeks or months before symptoms reappearusually during the early stages of the disorder. In general, however, symptoms become more severe over time.
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The 11 Best Treatments For Restless Legs Syndrome
What is restless legs syndrome?
Restless legs syndrome , also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a condition that causes uncomfortable sensations, most often in the legs. These sensations have been described as tingly, crawling, creeping feelings, and cause the overwhelming urge to move the affected limb.
RLS symptoms typically occur when the person is sitting, resting, or sleeping, and often happen at night. The movements caused by RLS are called periodic limb movements of sleep . Because of these movements, RLS can cause serious sleep problems.
For most people with RLS, symptoms are mild. But if your symptoms are moderate to severe, RLS can have a big impact on your life. It can prevent you from sleeping enough, and thus cause problems with daytime focus and thinking, your job, and your social activities.
As a result of these problems, RLS can lead to anxiety and depression. And the longer you have the condition, the worse it can get. It can even spread to other parts of your body, such as your arms .
Here we list the best treatments for RLS. Some of these you can try on your own. Others you can discuss with your doctor, who can help you create a treatment plan to help relieve your RLS symptoms.
Where Can I Get More Information
For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network at:
Office of Communications and Public LiaisonNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of HealthBethesda, MD 20892
NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.
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Articles On Restless Legs Syndrome
In some cases, personal habits can make a sleeping disorder like restless legs syndrome worse. Sometimes they play a big role in the problem.
Here are 10 steps you can take to lessen the symptoms of RLS and get you sleeping better:
- Avoid or limit alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine for at least several hours before bedtime.
- Review all the medications you take with your doctor.
- Exercise every day.
Tip : Get Daily Exercise
Daily activity, including aerobic exercise and lower-body resistance training, can significantly reduce the symptoms of restless legs syndrome in most people. Choose activities you enjoy, especially those that emphasize using the legs. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days, although not too close to bed time.
The exercise doesnt need to be intense. Simple daily activities such as walking can often deliver all the benefits youre looking for. In fact, highly vigorous exerciselike training for a marathoncan sometimes backfire and make RLS symptoms worse.
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Tips To Ease Restless Leg Syndrome For A Good Nights Sleep
If you toss and turn at night because of aching, creeping, prickling or crawling sensations in your legs when you lie down, you could have restless leg syndrome. According to WebMD, between five and 15 percent of adults suffer from this condition. Although it doesnt always signal a deeper health problem, it can cause you to lose out on much-needed sleep, leading to exhaustion and daytime sleepiness. In turn, this can lead to problems with mood, concentration, job performance and even depression.
Restless legs syndrome is also referred to as Willis-Ekbom Disease, causing unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs coupled with an irresistible urge to move them, points out the National Institutes of Health. Symptoms typically show up in the late afternoon or evening hours, culminating at night while resting, sitting or lying in bed. Symptoms can make it hard to fall asleep initially and fall back asleep later in the night. RLS is essentially classified as a sleep disorder, movement disorder, and neurological sensory disorder in one.
The National Sleep Foundation says RLS is a serious but treatable condition that can be made better through lifestyle changes, iron supplements, hot baths and more. Always talk to your health care provider or home care provider before trying any treatment.
Medicines For Aiding Sleep
If restless legs syndrome is badly disrupting your sleep, a short-term course of medicine may be recommended to help you sleep.
Hypnotics are usually only recommended for short-term use .
You may find you still feel sleepy or “hungover” the morning after taking your medicine.
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Treating Restless Legs Syndrome
Mild restless legs syndrome that isn’t linked to an underlying health condition can be managed with just a few lifestyle changes.
If symptoms are more severe, medication may be needed.
Restless legs syndrome caused by an underlying health condition can often be cured by treating that condition. For example, iron deficiency anaemia can be treated by taking iron supplements.
If it’s associated with pregnancy, it usually disappears on its own within four weeks of the birth.